Amy Quon is known to many Edmontonians as “the amazing Amy”—a nickname she earns every day of her life. She is one of Edmonton’s hardest working entrepreneurs, and one of its most beloved personalities.
Amy was born in Hong Kong, but came to Edmonton as a young adult in 1980 to complete her Grade 12 at Concordia College. Before long she met and married Kinman Quon, and together they raised three children: Miles, Mandy, and Marty.
After their youngest child had begun school, Amy took on a series of jobs—at the Salvation Army, as a waitress at the Silver Sea Chinese restaurant, and as a dietary aide and assistant cook at Northwood Extended Care, where she polished her kitchen skills.
In 1992, Amy started Chicken For Lunch in the Scotia Place food court. It has been her main occupation ever since.
On a typical weekday, Amy rises at 4:00 a.m. and heads to Chicken for Lunch. Because all of the restaurant’s chicken is prepared fresh every day, Amy must begin prepping the meat, vegetables and sauces very early in the morning. At 6:00 a.m., she and her staff open for breakfast, and at 10:30 a.m. they switch to their lunch menu.
At Chicken For Lunch, Amy knows all of her regular customers, whom she affectionately calls her “chicken boys and girls.” She has nicknames for all of them, and knows their favourite orders by heart. Most days, a line-up stretches across the entire food court waiting for Amy’s amazing chicken dishes.
Despite the location in a small out-of-the-way food court, word of Chicken For Lunch quickly spread. By the late 1990s, articles in the media were holding Amy up as a classic example of the difference good customer service can make. Amy began in 1992 with a staff of 1.5, but today she employs six.
Depending on the crowds, Amy usually closes Chicken for Lunch by 1:30 in the afternoon, at which point she typically drives several of her staff home before heading home herself—and collapsing.
As if that weren’t enough, Amy also works weekend evenings as a hostess at the Lingnan, the landmark restaurant she owns with her family. Wearing one of her hundreds of beautiful Chinese dresses, she greets old customers by name, stops and visits at every table, and distributes little gifts to the children.
Recently, the Quon family launched a third restaurant—the Lingnan Express, a food kiosk in St. Albert. Amy is actively involved in running that business as well.
In 2008, the entire Quon family agreed to have their lives documented in the Food Network Canada TV series The Family Restaurant. Edmonton-based Anaïd Productions produced 10 episodes of that series. The series features the entire family, but Amy—the colourful and bossy matriarch—steals the show. The show has sold around the world.
In 2010, Anaïd began work on a new series for CityTV—The Quon Dynasty—which ran for a further 13 episodes.
Whether she’s working behind the counter at Chicken for Lunch, dressed in her finery at the Lingnan, or charming viewers on TV, Amy remains unmistakably herself. Her affection for her customers and family are real, but she also recognizes that her outsized personality is a key branding tool for the family businesses. Her children cheerfully refer to her as the Colonel Sanders of the Quon family restaurants, and she’s happy to play that role.